A method and system is disclosed for efficiently controlling public access to a plurality of data objects stored within a data processing system. An access control profile is associated with each data object. Each access control profile preferably includes an explicit authorization parameter listing the identity of a particular user and the authorization level granted to that user; a shared authorization parameter listing the identities of a plurality of users and the authorization level granted to each listed user; and, a public authorization parameter listing the authorization level granted to each user not specifically set forth within the access control profile. A single "public" user identity is then defined for all users not specifically set forth within the access control profile, and that identity, as well as a public authorization level for an entire group of data objects is listed within a single shared authorization parameter. That shared authorization parameter is then placed within the access control profile of each data object within the group. Thereafter, a reference to the shared authorization parameter is placed within the public authorization parameter of each data object within the group so that public access to the entire group of data objects may be centrally controlled by means of a single shared authorization parameter.